Monday 7 June 2010

Six of the Best 6: Books on Preaching Biblical Genres

This is the sixth in a series of ‘Six of the Best’ books in a particular area related to engaging with Scripture which are first posted on the website of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. This one looks at books which explore the significance of preaching the different literary types in the Bible.

‘Genre’ is crucial not just for our reading and understanding of Scripture, but for our appropriation of it for today – whether in personal reading or in teaching others. An earlier ‘Six of the Best’ (found here) was devoted to books on handling the different biblical genres in our reading of Scripture. As a follow-up, the resources listed here all explore the significance of the literary variety in Scripture for preaching, working on the assumption that a passage from 1 Chronicles will be preached differently from a passage in 1 Corinthians, that preachers best serve their congregations by making sure to do justice to the nature of the text itself (whether narrative or poetry or letter), rather than squeezing everything into the same sort of shape. Don’t be put off by the word ‘preaching’ in the titles; these books are helpful not just to ‘preachers’ but to all those who want to apply Scripture appropriately for today.

Jeffrey D. Arthurs, Preaching With Variety: How to Re-create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2007).
Seeks to give attention to the rhetorical dynamics of the biblical literary types, with suggested implications for preaching, where the goal is to reproduce the intended effect of the text not just its ideas.

Charles H. Cosgrove and W. Dow Edgerton, In Other Words: Incarnational Translation for Preaching (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007).
Probably the most demanding of the books in this list. The key to their approach is in the phrase ‘incarnational translation’ in the subtitle; they seek to suggest how the text might have been presented – not just in terms of the sense of the passage, but also in terms of its form – if it had been written in the contemporary preacher’s own place and time.

Scott M. Gibson (ed.), Preaching the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2006).
A collection of essays by different contributors, covering between them the major genres of the Old Testament as well as some other topics (e.g., preaching the Old Testament in the light of its culture, preaching the Old Testament evangelistically).

Mike Graves, The Sermon as Symphony: Preaching the Literary Forms of the New Testament (Valley Forge: Judson, 1997).
Similar in concern to Arthurs’ book (above), but more narrowly focused on the New Testament.

Sidney Greidanus, The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text: Interpreting and Preaching Biblical Literature (Leicester: IVP, 1988).
Explores the interpretation and preaching of four main biblical genres: Old Testament narratives, prophetic literature, gospels, and epistles.

Thomas G. Long, Preaching and the Literary Forms of the Bible (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1989).
A relatively short but significant treatment of five genres: Psalms, Proverbs, narrative, parables, and epistles.

Previous entries in this series:

Books for beginners on interpreting the Bible
Books on biblical themes
Books on biblical worldview formation
Books on the biblical story
Books on the biblical genres

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